Reliable power is critical for one of world's largest data centres

Paul Boughton

Chad Dozier outlines the mission-critical solution that delivers reliability and availability.

Digitised information has reshaped commerce in every way, bringing new efficiencies and unprecedented access. Without power, though, data is rendered useless - or worse, lost completely.

Caterpillar offers diesel- and gas-powered generator sets, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, automatic transfer switches (ATS) and switchgear to supply clean, uninterrupted power for data centres. All Cat products are designed to work together, with all elements relating to the generator set production, control and monitoring functions integrated into a single-source package.

Pre-configured Cat components decrease site installation time and cost while increasing overall system reliability. Additionally, Caterpillar tailors each component to develop a fully optimised system via attachments and performance options to meet the individual demands of each specific application.

The effectiveness of Cat power solutions for data centres is evidenced at the IO data centre in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. IO designs, engineers and delivers data centre infrastructure for the world's largest enterprises, governments and service providers.

The company owns and operates data centres for hundreds of customers, and has leveraged this experience to build a next-generation Data Center 2.0 technology platform.

IO's Phoenix facility is ranked among the 10 largest data centres in the world by Data Center Knowledge. The centre occupies 50,000 square meters (538,000 square feet) and is located at the company's headquarters.

To accommodate growth, the company is expanding at the site to include another 16,700 square metres (180,000 square feet) of usable, raised-floor data centre space.

Company management attributes this growth to a keen awareness of the future landscape of data centre solutions, its customers and their business needs. "We design and build data centres based on what our customers' needs are. We don't build speculatively," said Andreas Zoll, vice president of engineering and development for IO. "We are in a mission-critical industry and we have a proven track record of success."

To ensure its back-up power systems are reliable and to meet on-going growth needs, IO selected Cat dealer Empire Power Systems to provide back-up power system solutions for its data centres in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona.

The IO Phoenix site is currently served by a dedicated, on-site substation expandable to 120MW. Empire Power Systems has deployed and supports more than 27 MW of UPS systems and 58MW of Cat 3516 back-up generators. The generator sets feed into Cat paralleling switchgear. Upon completion, full build-out will consist of additional paralleled Cat generator sets, as well as additional Cat flywheel UPS systems.

"The selection of Cat products boiled down to reliability and availability," Zoll noted. "In our work, we can never afford to lose power to our facility. If something goes wrong with an engine generator, or if we need a spare part on Christmas Day or the day after Thanksgiving, we want to be teamed up with a company that has a large global footprint, and that has a very good stock of parts in its service centre to respond to what is needed right away. This is the major reason that we are so closely partnered with Empire," he said. "We benefit from that level of service, where we need it and when we need it."

With all the expansion it is experiencing, IO has a service agreement with Empire Power Systems, and relies on the Cat service team to keep its generator sets run-ready.

"When you look at Empire here in the Southwest, it's really an ideal company with which to partner," Zoll said. "Empire has an enormous footprint here in Phoenix, and the staff members who are installing and servicing the equipment are very knowledgeable. From Caterpillar to Empire Power Systems representatives, they provide the complete package of quality products and quality service."

Doug Gooch, Empire's account manager for IO, said his team takes its responsibility very seriously.

"We look at IO as if it were a prime power application - it can't have power go down, not for a moment," he stated. "Power integrity is fundamental to IO and its customers, and we do everything possible to keep IO ready at all times."

Fortunately, IO has never experienced a power outage. But Zoll takes comfort knowing that IO's infrastructure is supported by the Cat team's expertise. "At IO, if we know someone has a proven track record for providing high-level, quality service, we like to work with them over and over," he said. "We have that situation with Empire. We completely trust their ability to provide parts, service and maintenance that ensure the reliability of our power system."

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Chad Dozier is a Diesel Product Consultant for Caterpillar Inc., Mossville, Illinois, USA.

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